Week XIV

And we have reached the end! Sort of.

I found myself smirking while wrapping up my paper today, mostly because of the big realization I made by the end–this whole time, I’ve wondered who to “blame” for the insane college tuition and which president is at fault.

But the big thing to note is that CONGRESS passes laws around these parts (aka the U.S). The president can propose whatever he wants in his campaign speech (well, not really, but you get the gist) but the lawmaking is going on in Congress. The imagery in my head after my discussion of my paper with Dr. Shermer last week is this: LBJ, Nixon, and Carter holding their heads in annoyance as Congress stubbornly passed legislation that is far from what they wanted. Nixon was especially upset, even though he signed the reauthorization of the HEA.

Even Reagan didn’t really get what he wanted–aid went up a bit instead of being cut down as proposed. But loans went up more than grants, which is where things got messier than they ever were. There has always been overwhelming bipartisan agreement on providing federal aid for higher education–it seems that Congress would get pretty excited about making college more accessible and kept increasing funding. I think colleges just started to expect it–they could raise their tuitions and provide for all the programs they were offering, because they knew that no matter what the executive branch promised, the legislative branch would make more funding possible for students.

Everything became sort of messy due to that, because while aid did increase, it continued to place the burden on students–plus, our economy has worsened in the past few years which makes it pretty hard to pay off massive student loans.

I’ve submitted a rough draft of my paper this week. I’m a little nervous about the conclusion, though. My original intention was to end with how medical students have been affected, but there is not much to say on that–medical students are just more likely to pay off loans, and since they were carrying out the most, the burden was falling on the government to pay for the subsidies on their loan interest. So, the government decided that they would stop providing subsidized loans to graduate students, and give only unsubsidized loans to them, but at the 6.8% interest rate that is the double the rate offered for undergraduates.

It’s a pretty messy situation, and seems unfair, but I actually do not see it changing much anytime soon. College costs are greater than family incomes right now, but the more aid the government has offered in the past, the worst it has all become.

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